You are on page 1of 4

Balkans oak coppice between conversions or degradations Haki KOLA

Balkan is different from the other part of Europe, related to the use of biomass in heating. More than 9 million hectare coppice forest in the Balkan countries can contribute a lot in the fulfilling increased market demands on firewood. Generally the tendency is to reduce the coppice management system and convert it in high forest. It is the dream of the most of the foresters. For years the foresters debate the reasons of their transformation on coppice and how to convert . As a result of long-term traditional management of oak dominated broadleaved forests in Southeast Europe, most of them are transformed into coppice ones: in Bulgaria 42% from the forested territory, Greece - 48% , Turkey 46%, Macedonia 80%, Serbia 35%, Croatia 15,8%, Albania 30%, Bosnia and Herzegovina 60%, or at least 9 mill. ha of Southeast Europe. The socio-economic development and environmental changes in Europe during the last decades enjoin some changes in necessities from forests, silvicultural concepts and management practices. The establishment of a balance between economic, social and ecological aspects in the management of widely spread coppice forest all over Southeast Europe is a significant challenge for contemporary forestry science and practice. According to contemporary silvicultural practice there are two main management systems concerning coppice forests - transformation of coppice forests into high which leads to seed regeneration and continuous coppice management which leads to natural vegetative regeneration. Rich and various experience and information concerning coppice forest management and transformation have been collected in Southeastern countries. Studying and generalization of different ideas, methods and approaches will help (facilitate) the implementation of appropriate conceptions for management of coppice forests which should help the forest practice to meet the public expectations. Especially public coppice forest is out of management in the last decades, maybe waiting the day of conversion. In an increasingly urban, fast paced world where we look more and more to sources outside our local area for our cultural and social identities the local coppice close to many of our communities can represent permanence, roots, solidity and social cohesion. People need it extremely for their everyday needs. The reality on the forest situation, have shown that local people are confused about their local public and private forest , for example, believing that managing them for coppice products is butchering forest. In some cases it is banned by the forest law. Being under the justifications of the conversion, people are used to see an ongoing status quo to the oak coppice forest. It can result on misunderstanding the forest science and forest use. It can lead people also perceive woodlands as static nature reserves museums that will somehow stay that way without management. What is the biggest threat to the survival of our small scattered local coppice forest? Lack of understanding how to manage, and lack of appreciation on the products used traditionally by the communities. Among others this mismanagement leads to woods not being valued and loved, open to threats such as illegal cutting. If people do not allow to manage legally local their woodlands, for the reasons of misunderstandings as for example forest service think their coppice management is damaging them, then woodlands may not be managed and can slip into illegal management and degradation.

People need fire wood. In non-managed oak forest, people tend to hide traces of their illegal cutting, they choose and cut continuously the best trees. This way of illegally select and cut the biggest and highest trees in silviculture is called negative selecting cuts. This result in damage of the forest regeneration. The reason is that sprouts coming from the remaining stools, have less chances to survive, in the absence of light, leading in forest stand degradation. Oaks are lovers of light, and since they dont have the ability to grow tall and slender, they are at competitive odds with existing tall trees. When young sprouts compete with many tall trees around, inevitably they lose the battle and slowly decline and die, or survive for years curved, deformed and non developed Working to encourage people to re-engage with their local wood needs open mind, good understanding on the every day life as well as the traditions and needs of local people and rural development. An open discussion on Why do it? Who is it for? Common Ground would always argue that building or rekindling ownership through familiarity will have positive effects for everyone involved. If local communities are to value woodlands they need to understand them and we need to perceive how they understand them - woodlands have survived this far because they have had a value in the past. Up to the middle of the last century woodland culture and economy was alive and well across all the Europe and UK. Socio economic changes use of the gas and charcoal reduced the coppice products market in all these countries. It was not the case in the Balkan where the needs for fuelwood remain the same. We need to accept the fact that that woodlands mean different things to policy makers, education institutions

and people in different socioeconomic contest, now and they may have a different importance to future generations. So we can explain our woodland heritage, encourage and interpret the resurgence in woodland crafts and raise awareness of present and future benefits of woodlands; the important thing is to re-engage local people with their local woods because people dont understand them any more and they are at best peripheral to most peoples lives.